For decades, the metal recycling industry has been purchasing, processing and brokering old materials to be remade into new products, providing critical resources for the UK’s manufacturing and oil and gas sectors. Today, it’s an industry that’s worth more than £6.5 billion to the UK economy.

As one of the largest metal recyclers and exporters of processed scrap metal in north and north east Scotland, the John Lawrie Group currently handles around 200,000 tonnes of metal every year.

Over the past 80 years, since the company was founded as a scrap metal merchant by Mr John Lawrie, our business has grown to specialise in the processing, recycling and sale of metal products as well as the trading of new and reusable steel, and decommissioning.

The UK is now one of the five largest metal scrap exporting countries in the world and we’re delighted to be to be at the forefront of the industry. At the John Lawrie Group, I’m responsible for all our UK operations, focusing on the metals and decommissioning side of the business.

Q: We hear the term ‘reuse and recycle’ used in the metal recycling industry far more than the word ‘scrapping.’ Why is that?

Reuse and recycling is a viable alternative to scrapping, and it's an option that has a positive effect on our clients' environmental credentials.  Virtually all metals can be recycled into high quality new metal.

The greater part of the scrap and metal recycling industry processes ferrous and non-ferrous metal into vital secondary raw material for the smelting of new metals. The process varies for different metals but generally recycling produces metals of equivalent quality. Using secondary raw materials, means we can conserve more of our precious natural resources.

Reuse and recycling is also good for the UK economy. Despite a decline in the steel industry, export markets are growing therefore metal manufacturing continues to add significant economic value nationwide. According to the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), the trade association representing the £6.5billion UK metal reycling sector, 10 million tonnes of metal was recycled in the UK last year. The Association says that the UK produces considerably more scrap than is required for domestic markets, and so 90% is exported worldwide

John Lawrie Metals has established processing facilities in Aberdeen, Montrose and Evanton, near Invergordon, where scrap metal is segregated, sorted and sheared for recycling into new steel products. Our goal is to provide a problem-free solution for the removal, storage and the ultimate recycling or resale of scrap metal.

Q: What kind of used metal and steel products do you process?

The list is practically limitless and includes; oilfield related products, constructional by-products, general scrap, agricultural scrap and non-ferrous scrap. We also handle marine-related products such as new and used anchor chain, shackles and kenters, and used wire ropes.

Q: What about vehicles which have reached the end of their useful lives?

The introduction of the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Regulations has resulted in significant change within the scrap metal sector as every vehicle scrapped now has to be fully de-polluted and waste materials accounted for. Every year, motor vehicles which have reached the end of their useful lives create between 8 and 9 million tonnes of waste in the European Union. John Lawrie receives de-polluted ELV’s from registered de-polluters for shredding and processing in accordance with strict environmental regulations.

Q: How does the metal recycling sector meet its environmental commitments?

As the global focus on protecting the environment continues to sharpen, the scrap metal recycling sector is being recognised as one of the world’s first green industries while playing a prominent role as an economic leader, exporter and environmental champion.

Virtually all metals can be recycled into high quality new metal. The process varies for different metals but generally recycling produces metals of equivalent quality.

In environmental terms, EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes every year. Using recycled steel to make new steel reduces air pollution by 86 percent, water use by 40 percent and water pollution by 76 percent.

Metals recycling is an established, globally competitive industry that provides essential secondary raw material for metals manufacture, which in turn enables a significant reduction in use of energy and virgin resources.

All of John Lawrie Group’s Scottish recycling facilities are fully licensed and regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). All our activities comply fully with strict operating procedures, particularly in relation to health, safety and environmental protection and we hold ISO 18001, 14001 and 9001 safety, environmental and quality management accreditations.

Q: How has the change in the law governing the purchase and sale of scrap metal affected metal recycling companies in Scotland?

The new legislation banning the use of cash when buying or selling scrap metals came into force on September 1st 2016 in a bid to crack down on the metal theft trade in Scotland.

Payment by cash is now a criminal offence and can result in fines, with higher fines set out for more serious breaches of the law. Private individuals and non-corporate suppliers of scrap looking to get rid of scrap metal now have to bring acceptable forms of ID with them to licenced scrap metal dealers when selling or buying scrap metal.

Legitimate suppliers and businesses who produce scrap metal and are going through licenced scrap metal dealers such as John Lawrie Group have absolutely nothing to worry about, as the payments and processes we already have in place will ensure everyone is operating legally and are therefore fully compliant with the new Act.

We have no reason to believe that the new changes should have a detrimental impact on our business.

Q: You need a Metal Dealer’s licence for dealing in recycled and scrap metal. How are those licenses controlled?

Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, local councils are responsible for determining the suitability of applicants and the issuing of scrap metal dealers licences. Licence holders must keep detailed records on any metal they handle including its description and weight; date and time of transaction; and the details of where they got it from.

If you would like more information about metals, reuse and recycling, please visit

Or contact: Dave Weston, Operations Director

Greenbank Road, East Tullos, Aberdeen, AB12 3BQ, United Kingdom